Cascades Academy Independent School PK-12
First Grade Shares their Name Song at the Closing Assembly

Multi-Age Learning in the Great Outdoors
Multi-Age Learning in the Great Outdoors

Outdoor School has been perfectly named. It's two days of school in the great outdoors. Beyond the educational aspects of the program like discovering the science behind the solar eclipes, looking at the macroinvertebrates of Tumalo Creek, or exploring the hidden math in the creation of mandala nature sculptures, Outdoor School each spring offers our students the opportunity to shine as valuable and contributing members of our lower school community, no matter what age.

Multi-age groups, intentionally created by the LS team, provided children the chance to learn from and with each other in a way that is reflected in the world around them. This learning doesn't always take place in little grade-level groups, but in learning from and sharing with each other. Younger students watching older students' excitement about a traditional class that they've been waiting all year to take, or a younger child going into a new activity with a willing attitude and outlook that rubs off on an older friend. Older students mentoring younger friends while the instructor leads the group or an older new student depending on a younger friend to explain what's happening next. Each group not only had the guidance and leadership of a teacher, administrator, parent, or friend, but of each other.

Monday morning this week, the teachers led an Outdoor School debrief where each letter of the word FLIGHT that we've been working on all year was exemplified by one or more of the experiences the children shared. Children felt the family part of flight as they supported one and other in trying new things, they were heroes when someone needed help or showed a bit of fear around trying something new. You could feel the inquisitive nature of each of the groups as they excitedly asked questions and shared wonder with our myriad of teachers and student group leaders. Your children showed true leadership skills as they each had opportunities to lead other members of their group, regardless of age. Their teamwork over the course of the two-day learning experience was exemplified by Ms. Fiore commenting that we didn't have one major challenge or behavior incident that any of us had to manage. Grit was exhibited when a new idea or challenge was presented in the class that had never been tried, or simple things like being hungry or tired, but still needing to stay focused and on on track until break time. That outcome along with the outpouring of support by our parent community and the new upper school participation in afternoon classes has spurred conversations to add more outdoor learning opportunities to our calendar for next school year.

Thank you to the teachers, volunteers, administrators, and upper school students and faculty who helped make it such a huge success this year. Without the support of our community, this wonderful part of our curriculum could never fully take FLIGHT.

-Bill Alsdurf, Jr., Lower School Head

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